VRBO - I approved an RTB - now they don't like the accommodation 🤨

Our start with VRBO seems to be a little rocky…

We received an RTB which seems to be different from our first contact we had, being an inquiry - apparently.

Since we’re new on VRBO and we wanted to start off slowly we do not allow instant booking and wanted to have an opportunity to communicate with the guests before approving them.

This was not possible when we got our first inquiry - only by chance I made a modification of the reservation which then enabled me to communicate with the potential guest - unless I completely don’t understand how their messaging system works…

Aaaaaaanyways, so we get this RTB a couple days ago, 2 adults + 2 kids. Our industrial studio might not be ideal for very little children (stairs) but that’s up to the parents to decide whether they can keep an eye on their offspring or not.

So before I approve the RTB, I send the guest a recap of our house rules and the usual welcome mambo-jambo - no response. I wait 16 hours (out of the 24 hours to approve or decline), still no response. I write again to inquire if they have received my previous message (not being sure if they get messages while their request is pending). VRBO doesn’t show whether the message has been delivered/read.

So, then I approve the RTB and send the message again to make them aware of our house rules etc. - no response. Once I accepted the RTB I see their email. So I send them an email this morning. Now, late afternoon, the response reads like this:

Sorry for the late reply, I have lost my cell phone for several days and just found it again. Thanks for the message and I just read it but we think that the studio is not the right place for us.

There was no demand for a cancellation or refund as of now. No idea if they can cancel within 24 hours of approval without fees (check-in date would be in 3 days).

Since I don’t know how VRBO’s messaging system works and given this bizarre miscommunication with this potential guest plus the weird email response paired with a funky lost-cell-phone-excuse I wonder if this might be a scam of some sort.

I mean, even without her cell phone she should have been receiving notifications about the messages I sent her in the VRBO chat - or so I presume. Also, as someone who sent out an RTB would normally check when or if the request has been accepted. Apparently they also paid already.

Perhaps I just have to reach out to support to understand what’s happening but maybe some of you here have had similar experiences on VRBO…?

Ah, a little additional note here: They never responded in the VRBO chat. Only one response via email. Sus?

Vrbo is not that much different from AirBnB. Yes, they should get messages while their RTB is pending - that’s the whole idea of the RTB, just like on AirBnB.

Whether they get a refund or not depends on your cancellation policy, same as on AirBnB.

No idea if this is a scam, but go ahead and communicate back using Vrbo’s messaging system, just like you would with AirBnB. I don’t consider it suspect that they responded via email and not Vrbo. I get both types of guests - ones that communicate off-platform and ones that only communicate through Vrbo.

But whatever you do, don’t refund them out of your pocket - let Vrbo handle it. And if they are still eligible for a refund, contact them both ways (email and Vrbo) and remind them to cancel ASAP if they want a refund as the clock is ticking.


We have chosen the least strict refund policy (0% refund possible if less than 7 days prior to check-in). To my understanding the guest has no option for a refund in her account if/when she is cancelling the reservation.

I don’t know if VRBO has another 24 hour short time cancellation rule for bookings on short notice.

So, I’m somewhat indifferent to this scenario - guest wants to book, doesn’t respond, I approve, contact them outside of VRBO just to make sure and get the answer above - again outside of VRBO. I’m really not a fan of communicating outside of the platform’s channels as it’s becoming more complicated to trace things back…

As long as the guest is not even trying to reach out to me on VRBO, I don’t see why I should do anything. Policy is clear, I tried to motivate to guest to verify that their choice was well thought through but after approving the RTB, the booking was complete. :man_shrugging:

[quote=“Hosterer, post:1, topic:61034”] even without her cell phone she should have been receiving notifications about the messages I sent her in the VRBO chat

I assume that VRBO notifications come the same way as Airbnb’s- SMS, app push notifications, or email?

Many people don’t really use email or check it rarely. So that leaves 2 other ways to receive messages, both of which require a phone. So if she really did misplace her phone, she wouldn’t have seen any notifications.

I wouldn’t be concerned with communicating with a guest off-platform as long as you aren’t communicating anything you think might need future documentation.

If a guest isn’t answering a platform message, you just send them a whatsapp or SMS saying, “Hi XX, I sent you a VRBO message yesterday and am waiting on your reply. Could you please check your Inbox?”

You aren’t communicating anything that needs documenting, because the platform can already see that they haven’t answered your platform message or a follow up “Waiting for your answer…”.

I have had to do this a few times with guests- they either didn’t see their notification, or didn’t think answering was of any urgency. I don’t think most guests are aware that hosts only have 24 hrs to decide whether to accept an RTB. They may just assume the request was accepted, not notice a message notification, and not check back.

That’s exactly what I did. I just asked them to make sure to check their VRBO inbox so we can start having an exchange there but they decided to answer to the email.

At that point I haven’t but if the potential guest decides to continue communicating outside of VRBO, it might mean more work if things get out of hand. Hence my preference to stay on-platform with the guest. Alternate forms of communication like WhatsApp, SMS or phone are only used for urgent matters if the guests don’t respond on-platform.

What baffles me is that some people make RTBs or even a booking itself but then walk away from the chat/platform until check-in day comes around acting all like “Oh my, I didn’t know check-in was from x time to x time” or “Where do I find the entry code”. Apparently it’s too much to ask to stay a little bit on top of your travel arrangements which in our case is the accommodation - an integral part of any journey.

Again, I most likely just think of this how I handle my reservations and I like to double check that the accommodation part is well taken care of.

Oh, I do much the same. Most guests are amenable to keeping messaging on platform, for their protection as well as the host’s.

I do occasionally whatsapp with upcoming guests a bit, depending on what vibe I’ve gotten from them from their platform messages and their reviews. If I can tell they are cool, I don’t mind messaging off-platform.

One guest I did this with asked by whatsapp if maybe I’d be open to booking direct- I said I would for repeat guests, but not for a booking that came through Airbnb, as while it costs a bit more in fees, it provides protection for both of us, who at this point are total strangers to each other. And that I owe it to the platform to have them paid for connecting hosts and guests.

She was totally cool with my response and said she understood completely.

While most of us older folks check our email, and keep on top of platform notifications and messaging, I’ve found a lot of younger folks have limited ways they are accustomed to communicating. They may not notice a notification dot on their phone, but if they normally use whatsapp, they are on it all day with everyone, so they quickly see a message there.


Hay Muddy,
I am so grateful for your insight into the response info.
I want to break plates when people don’t understand that I am basically off grid with no cell service.
I rely on my my landline and require all guests talk to me on the phone for directions and to confirm their arrival time…
Causing issues more and more…
Haven’t quite figured out how to work around it.
But it’s sure better than guests getting lost and not being able to call (or text) in the ass back of Oregon…

@Coolsheal I took a look at your website that is on your profile. I don’t know what your Airbnb listing looks like, but the first thing that jumped out at me on your website (apart from the fact that you have an awesome place) is that nowhere upfront do you mention that there is no cell service and that you are off-grid. You advertise it as Luxury Accomodation, and no one these days is going to think that something advertised that way wouldn’t have cell service.

I think you would have a lot less issues if you made it extremely clear, without guests having to dig for the info, that this is in the boonies, off-grid, with no cell service.

@Hosterer - what happened with this guest?

Thanks for the response…
My website is not updated… Don’t actually use it for guests.
I assure you that I have gone to extreme lengths to explain on my listings that Guest have to use Wi-Fi calling as most carriers don’t work on the property…
Been hosting full time since 2012, so I know the drill.

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This reservation is now in the hands of upper-level VRBO support since the guest didn’t show up and neither sent a cancellation request. :man_shrugging:

We find the reservation process on VRBO rather confusing (although it should be pretty straight forward in normal cases) as the communication with the guest seems to be quite difficult (no response).

We have to wait for a response from support and see what happens.

Why did you put this in the hands of Vrbo support? The guests didn’t cancel and they didn’t show. You get to keep their payment. Done.


I felt like this could actually be a scam, plus I’m not happy about VRBO’s hosting interface when it comes to a no-show nor can I find any substantial information in their knowledge base about no-shows. We’re new on VRBO and honestly, when I read how Airbnb treats Superhosts that can be instantly wiped off their website if a customer makes a funny claim, we thought it would be safer to involve support.

Correct me if I’m wrong but if we did not involve support as you suggested, wouldn’t the guest have the opportunity to leave a review???

Yes, but they might not leave a review - not all guests review, especially on Vrbo.

If they so, you should be able to get that review removed with the email they sent, especially if you went back to the Vrbo messaging system and told them you received their notice they aren’t going to show up and want to confirm that.

VRBO called me back. They couldn’t make sense of the guest’s messaging style/behaviour either and confirmed that I will get paid. Guest didn’t request to cancel so this reservation will go through the system as a regular stay but without the guest showing up.

Exactly as you said, if the guest decides to leave a review, I’m supposed to reach out to support to have it removed since they never checked-in.

Let’s hope the next VRBO reservations will go smoother…

We already received another inquiry of some folks who need to store some"boats" during their stay. We’re trying our best to accommodate them. Let’s see how that one pans out :joy:

I would advise you not to try to accommodate guests who have unusual or difficult requests. “Store some boats”- ???

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We do live close to slalom course for canoeing and they call themselves a ‘paddling group’. Other than that they didn’t provide any more specific details about their “boats” :rofl:

I assume they talk about canoes which shouldn’t be too big (well definitely too big for bringing them into the accommodation, that’s for sure).

It’s one of those funny things where the guests just throw some random phrases at us and we’re supposed to make sense of it. Still, it would have been very helpful to provide the ‘boat’ length for example to get an idea what sized sports equipment we’re talking here.

Aaaaanyway, I responded and provided some solutions to their ‘storage problem’ but low and behold: no answer for two days…

On VRBO I almost feel like on FB marketplace where people just write “Is this still available” and after answering them that it is, they never get back to you ever again. :crazy_face:

People seem to be unclear on how to effectively communicate these days.
I put out an ad on a local marketplace last year looking for a housesitter. I got a lot of replies and half of them consisted solely of “Hi, I saw your ad”.


I get ghosted after answering lots of questions just as often on AirBnB as I do on Vrbo. And sometimes I think they’ve decided to not book but a week or two (or more) later they come back and book.

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Haha, your interpretation of “communicating effectively” made me chuckle. I’m not even expecting ‘effective’ communication but just a minimum of courtesy to respond to questions or inquiries from my end. It’s called respect in my book.

Why on earth would you even contact someone who offers something you’re interested in and then just ghost them? It doesn’t require a lot to drop a short message… :man_shrugging: